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Poll: Nearly half would ban fireworks

A citizens' initiative and recent poll find that many residents want fireworks off the shelves.

Ilotuliterakettien ampumista talvisessa maisemassa
About a dozen people a year receive serious eye injuries from poorly operated fireworks. Image: Sari Gustafsson / Lehtikuva

The sale of fireworks for the New Year's season began on Friday, but Finnish consumers are increasingly calling to ban retail sales of the seasonal pyrotechnics.

A poll by paper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus found that nearly half of respondents (47 percent) said they would support a ban on the retail sales and personal use of fireworks.

A gender analysis of the results found that 57 percent of women and 38 percent of men are against the use of fireworks by anyone except trained professionals. The results are also relative to age: 60 percent of respondents over the age of 64 would ban New Year's rockets, compared to just 37 percent of those under 30.

The survey conducted by TNS Kantar Agri interviewed 1,089 Finnish residents. The margin of error for the results is +/- three percentage points.

Health, safety, environment concerns

For now, individuals in Finland may set off fireworks between 6pm on Tuesday 31 December and 2am on Wednesday 1 January.

The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) said that safety goggles are compulsory for people who use fireworks. Observers should also take precautions to protect their eyes and face. Fireworks cause 10-30 people to be hospitalised every year.

Thirteen people were injured by fireworks last New Year's Eve, according to Tukes. Ten of the victims were setting off fireworks when they were injured.

A citizens' initiative to ban the non-professional use of fireworks gathered more than 65,000 signatures in 2018. The initiative's proposal – which includes concerns over animal rights and the environmental damage caused by thousands of chemical explosions and the resulting debris – is currently under parliamentary deliberation. The initiative would not prohibit the use of small pyrotechnics such as sparklers, squibs and Roman candles.

The value of the annual fireworks market is some 30 million euros, according to the pyrotechnic artists' association PITE.

Little political support for ban

In early December a poll by Uutissuomalainen found that Movement Now (Liike Nyt) was the only political group to support the full ban of consumer fireworks.

The Finns Party, National Coalition Party and Centre Party all oppose the ban outright. Hanna-Leena Mattila, the Centre parliamentary group's vice chair, said a prohibition may lead to a rise in dangerous homemade fireworks.

Responses from the Social Democratic Party, Greens, Swedish People's Party and the Christian Democrats indicated that they would investigate the matter before taking a position. The Left Alliance did not respond to the poll.

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